San Diego State vs Army Preview and Prediction: Armed Forces Bowl
San Diego State vs Army Preview
College football has become a wide open passing-orientated game–but this year’s Armed Forces Bowl will be the exact opposite. Both Army and San Diego State thrive on the ground and the Aztecs in particular feature a running back you much watch. Army, known for its option offense that produced a nation-best 368.1 yards per game on the ground, is focused on dominating the tempo and wearing down opponents with its rushing attack.
The must-watch back I was talking about is Rashaad Penny who quietly led the nation in rushing this season with 2,027 yards.
With two ball-control, high-scoring offensive attacks, San Diego State coach Rocky Long coach quipped that this could be one of the shortest college football games of the 2017 season.
“Army is known for running the ball and controlling the clock and that’s what we try to do too,” Long stated. “If it wasn’t for TV and commercials, it would probably be the shortest game in history.”
The Aztecs have never lost to Army, winning their only two meetings. San Diego State won by a 23-20 final score at Army in 2011 and picked up a 42-7 triumph at home over the Black Knights in 2012.
“There’s no out-scheming people,” San Diego State safety Trey Lomax said. “They know what we are going to do and we know what they are going to do. We are going to run the ball and they are going to run their option stuff. It will be fun.”
Army (9-3) has scored 45 touchdowns on the ground this season. The Black Knights won six straight games earlier this season and own a 5-2 mark in games decided by a touchdown or less. They head to Cowtown on the heels of a thrilling 14-13 win against Navy that secured the academy’s first Commander in Chief’s trophy title since 1996.
Army’s Triple Option Success
Jeff Monken is in his fourth year as coach of the Black Knights. Over the past two years, Army is 17-8, including 12-3 in the past 15 games, and is making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 1984-85.
“Army is the most physical and the most aggressive team we will play this year,” Long said. “Army has simplified it (option offense) because they don’t run as much triple option as Air Force and Navy do, but they do run zone-read option because they want the quarterback (Ahmad Bradshaw) to carry the ball.
“The quarterback carrying the ball gives you an extra blocker. If you are actually reading the triple option, there are two extra blockers. They line up in formations that make you believe they are triple option but they are speed option.”
San Diego State’s Under the Radar Season
The Aztecs ended the season 10-2 winning their last four games and even knocked off Pac-12 runner-up Stanford. With this type of season, you would think SDSU would get more national publicity, especially with a 2,000 yard rusher in Penny—but nope, they have gone largely unnoticed.
Long is in his seventh season at the helm of the program and has amassed the most victories (64-28, .696) of any Mountain West coach since the league’s inception in 1999. His teams have now reached double-digit wins in each of the past three seasons.
Rashaad Penny: The Man to Watch
San Diego State leans heavily on Penny, who tops the nation in rushing yards (2,027) and all-purpose yards (2,698). He had 19 rushing touchdowns, two receiving scores and had three more touchdowns on kickoff or punt returns this season.
Penny’s lowest output in any of the Aztecs’ victories was 108 yards. Fresno State held him to 69 and Boise State to 53 (both losses).
Monken on Penny:
“We saw a little bit of (Penny) when we were preparing for Air Force (which played San Diego State),” Monken said. “We haven’t had any other common opponents where we had a chance to really watch him, which is probably a good thing. I’ll lose enough sleep when we get prepared for him next week. I don’t want to be losing any right now on account of him.”
If Army wants any chance to take down the Aztecs they will need to slow Penny down. If he hits triple digits in rushing yards, SDSU is not losing this game. The trouble with focusing solely on Penny is that the Aztecs have another great back waiting in the wings…Juwan Washington may be the backup, but he has amassed 715 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the season.
LINE: -7 SDSU
San Diego State 38 Army 24